Apr 8, 2011

Facebook has opened up it engineering secrets to the world. Facebook calls it open compute. Getting into the details, facebook has shared its data center,server engineering specification in order to inspire the start ups to get something from facebook engineering. As mentioned earlier, open compute project is aimed at sharing specification and best practices for creating efficient and economical data centers. In contrary, Google and Microsoft which spends billions in building their own architecture kept their technology very close to their heart. Will this move inspire them to share their secrets with the world as well?

Doing this, facebook has broken an unwritten rule of sharing hardware secrets. Many of these servers run on open source projects like apache,linux. Facebook's open compute project aims to kick start similar trend in the hardware sector as well.

When you go through their specification, it is evidently clear that, facebook has not created a new technology instead customized the existing technology to facilitate Facebook's need. Nevertheless, credit has to be given to the engineers who came up with most efficient technology.

So, what did Facebook share?

Facebook shared mechanical specifications and cad files of its server chassis, power supply, server motherboard and also battery backup specification including electrical system of its data center. For details check out this video.
  • The outside is 1.2mm zinc pre-plated, corrosion-resistant steel with no front panel and no ads.
  • The parts snap together: the motherboard snaps into place using a series of mounting holes on the chassis, and the hard drive uses snap-in rails and slides into the drive bay. The unit only has one screw for grounding. It’s like Container Store does cheap servers and someone at Facebook built an entire server in three minutes.
  • Hold onto your chassis because the server is 1.5u tall about 50 percent taller than other servers to make room for larger and more efficient heat sinks.
  • Check out how this scales. It has a reboot on LAN feature, which lets a systems administrator instantly reboot a server by sending specific network instructions.
  • The motherboard speaker is replaced with LED indicators to save power and provide visual indicators of server health.
  • The power supply accepts both A/C and D/C power, allowing the server to switch to D/C backup battery power in the event of a power outage.
  • There are two flavors of processor with the Intel motherboard offering two Xeon 5500 series or 5600 series processors, up to 144GB memory and an Intel 5500 I/O Hub chip.
  • AMD fans can choose two AMD Magny-Cours 12 and 8 core CPUs, the AMD SR5650 chipset for I/O, and up to a maximum 192GB of memory.
Infrastructure nerds enjoy!

Specs via